I Had an A-Ha Moment…

Two nights ago while watching Ricardo in his “dad” role, I was made aware once again of how challenging Spanish is.  As he was listening to one of his daughters share her latest dilemma and offering up his advice I only wished I had enough knowledge of the Spanish language to be able to share my thoughts too.

Fast Forward 2 hours later, long after his daughter had fallen fast asleep we laid in bed and he re-capped everything that was said.  After he translated for me I had an even bigger desire to share my 2 cents given the topic of conversation.  Frustrated, I laid there thinking how it was even possible that I’ve been living here for just over a year and can’t consider myself fluent, or even at the point of speaking conversationally yet.  Am I stupid? I thought…

After hearing my concerns Ricardo looks at me and says in Spanish, the reason you can’t speak Spanish is because you don’t practice.  You don’t try.  You always say you can’t.  You need to say “I CAN learn Spanish” “I WANT to learn Spanish” “I WILL learn Spanish.” but instead you say, “I can’t, or, it’s not possible.” if you want to learn Spanish, you need to  practice or else you will never learn.

I don’t know what I was expecting him to say…  Maybe some words of encouragement for all that I HAVE learned in the last year or maybe a reminder of all that I can understand in Spanish… But instead I got exactly what I NEEDED to hear.  The truth.  He’s right… the reason I can understand so much is because I’m constantly listening, or asking what something means…  I’m forever practicing my listening skills but neglecting the speaking part so in the end, here I sit with a very lop sided knowledge of Spanish.

That was my A-Ha moment.  That was the moment I realized the light bulb was there, it just hadn’t yet gone off.
I don’t have a choice.  I need to learn this language.  Ricardo’s entire family speaks Spanish.  His 3 daughters speak Spanish.  I’ve gotten away speaking basic Spanish since living here but I cannot keep having basic conversations when what I want is meaningful relationships.  Learning Spanish is not a want at this point, it’s a necessity.

Fast forward to yesterday I called my friend Milena over at Mexi-Can Me.  She sweetly shared her experience of her sometimes bad-attempt at speaking Spanish.  How people would look at her completely confused wondering what she was trying to say.  How sometimes they would laugh because she sounded so darn cute even if she was saying something correctly.  She encouraged me to just start talking and to find something else to add to the conversation.

A-HA! The light bulb went off.

I got off the phone and Belen (Ricardo’s daughter) was still here.  I practiced. I practiced my heart out.  Things that she asked me that I would normally say “Yes or No” to, I was adding another sentence to that.  The result was we spent 5 hours just the two of us.  Talking, listening to music, making dinner, painting our nails.  I said things wrong.  I got out my translator.  She helped me.  We laughed.  We did a Spanish and an English lesson together.  That is what I want.  A relationship.  The kind of relationship I’m not going to get simply by asking “how are you?” or saying “have a good day, yes, or no.”

My new mission is to learn this language.  I can’t call it a goal just yet as I still need to map a few things out to determine what my first goal will be and how I will know I’ve achieved it.  But I’m happy that I’ve come to the point where the mission has been set.  Today, I formally announce to you here on my blog, that I am going to actively start learning.  I have less than 1 year left in Mexico and it’s not going to get any easier once we are back in Canada surrounded by English everything.

The time is now, and there is no better time than this.

*If you are learning, or have learnt to speak another language… What have you found has helped you most?*
I would love to hear your tips and tricks =)

13 thoughts on “I Had an A-Ha Moment…

  1. That’s awesome Shelly, I’m very happy for you, and as always a little jealous. I would love to be surrounded by spanish while learning it, but am in Canada where it is spoken soooo little. Even when I go to Mexico most of the staff in the resorts speak english, they are awesome that they appreciate my efforts, but I still get little opportunity to speak it much. I’m blessed in that I have a mom who grew up in Argentina that I can practice with, and isn’t afraid to correct me when I say something wrong, which I think is important to have honest teachers. What I did recently that really helped was ordered the Simon & Schusters Pimsleur’s spanish. It’s spanish lessons on a bunch of cd’s, it’s supposed to be the most proven method of learning a new language, it’s helped me huge. Not sure if you can order it down there but you could check into it, even reading about it might give you some ideas of the how to use the best methods. Ricardo’s right though speaking is just as important as listening, although listening to how it’s said is also very important, so you’ve had it half right all along. He’s also right that you need to keep a positive attitude of “I can”, don’t be sooo hard on yourself, just make a commitment to really try, and work at it everyday. I listen to my cd’s everyday on the way to/from work, it helps, I’ve even started thinking in Spanish a bit, and when I read things I translate them in my head to spanish, it’s kinda cool. (I always say that a little prayer never hurts any efforts either, always good to have god help you through) You’ll get there, I have faith in you. 🙂

  2. You Go Girl! You can do anything you set your mind to! Way to go Ricardo for telling her what she needs to hear as opposed to what she wants to hear 🙂
    Go take a Spanish class Shell… look at all you learned in a half hour with that guy at the resort 🙂 Think about it 🙂

  3. Wow, that is so awesome! I am so happy to see you commit to this and will be behind you every step of the way to help you practice and help eachother! You know most of my tips since we talked yesterday – so I just want to say I believe in you and I know you can do it! 🙂

  4. Good for you!! I am in that process also. I have been her for about a year and a half and can pretty much get by, by myself. I can understand more than I can speak still, but I am trying, one day at a time. I kind of have to learn being stuck in house with javis only spanish speaking family. I learn something new at least everyweek, sometimes everyday and its true you have to want to learn and practice. Javi is not much help because he does not want to lose his english and almost never talks to me in spanish. I try to listen a lot and pick out words I know to try and understand the conversations around me. Good luck!! I am sure now that you know it is something you want you will be fluent in no time.

    • I think it’s perfect that you live with his family in terms of your Spanish! I know for sure I would be able to speak more if I was living in a house full of spanish speakers! When Ricardo’s daughters come over I always feel like my Spanish improves tons by the time they leave! Goodluck to you my friend, we will get there!!!

  5. Okay, so Milena just shared your blog w/ me today, and I am going to catch up on it!!

    I soooo remember the feelings you described, especially the “am i stupid” comment!! LOL!! I used to think the same thing, it is just me? LOL.

    Really, your hubby is right. Practice, practice and then more practice. That is honestly how it worked for me… I also think you are more fortunate as you are surrounded by many non-English speakers. In Cancun most people speak English, and it was getting frustrating. Sometimes people did not want to be my practice partner. I even had a friend tell me that they would prefer if we spoke English, as they have to listen to people at work “try” and speak Spanish. Hahaha. That didn’t help the cause…

    Hubby was so wonderful. I got an amazing tutor in Canada before I moved to Cancun, and then I practiced my little butt off. I mean ALL the time…

    Good for you for trying so hard yesterday. Baby steps 🙂

    Ohhh I also ordered some CD’s…. Visual Link Spanish discs. They are amazing, and I think I have MUCH better results than my friends who tried Rosetta Stone, and others…

    Suerte !!

    • Thank you so much for your comment and all the helpful info!!! 🙂 I’m really excited to start learning more, definitely baby steps! Are you fluent now in Spanish or still trying to get there?

  6. Oh man, I so feel you. This year (year 4 in Mexico) I have been so amazed by where I FINALLY am with my Spanish. I was just thinking the other day about how the first two years I was having the exact feelings you described in your blog. And you know what my husband gave me the same advise. And he is so very right. If you dont start opening your mouth and speaking like a child you will never grow up in the language. Its actually one of the hardest things to get over. Start with family and then start with the tienda you frequent or the places you eat. People will laugh yes, just laugh with them and ask them what you said wrong and how you can say it right. Most of them will respect you for that. Now that Im teaching English I see its their major block also. Once they open up to me and start practicing in class they soar. You will to, just remember it is a process and no matter how hard you work on it, it will still take time also. Like I said 4 years and Im still laughing with them but I sure can get a long a lot better, hey Im actually working and I knew nothing when I came here. Reading your post just made me so proud of what I know you will be doing before you even realize it.

    • I loved this ” If you dont start opening your mouth and speaking like a child you will never grow up in the language.”

      That’s perfect!!!

      I’m so glad my post let you remember how much you’ve learned 🙂 I even get like that sometimes when I talk to people who are just learning “how are you” or something similar in Spanish. It takes a long time to get everything perfected 🙂

  7. This is such a great post. 🙂 Someone said something to me this week that really helped me because I genuinely wanted to practice my speaking but didn’t know any words – She said you can probably practice speaking and learn more Spanish by immersion in a culture if you already have knowledge of the basics. I have zero knowledge of the basics so am so glad I decided to start taking Spanish classes. They’re the best part of my week now because I’m so eager to learn more and more and more. 🙂

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